Small Business Saturday helps local shops and restaurants shine

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HARRISON & MARION COUNTIES, W.Va. (WDTV) - With more and more people turning to online shopping, or Black Friday, for their holiday deals, it can be hard for small businesses to stand out from the crowd.

American Express distributed doormats, stickers, flyers, and other fun items, to help small businesses promote the event.

"Especially on Black Friday; we were here yesterday, but it's really hard to compete with the mall," said Amanda Leaseburg, owner of The Starving Artist and Sanctuary in Bridgeport.

That's why eight years ago, American Express founded Small Business Saturday, to give local shops a boost during the busiest days of the retail calendar.

"It was a no-brainer, we've been doing it since the beginning; we've had such a good response to it every year," Leaseburg said.

More than 112 million Americans participated in the shopping event last year, according to statistics from American Express.

"It's kind of like a fun holiday for small businesses," said DJ Cassell, co-owner of The Rambling Root, a bar and restaurant in Fairmont.

"It's one of our better days of the year," said Leaseburg.

Many shop owners say they've been looking forward to this day for weeks.

"We're focused on giving everyone really good deals, super cute clothes, and meeting even more new people," said Brandy Bland, owner of Britain and Brooks, a women's clothing boutique in Fairmont.

According to reports from the Small Business Administration, there are more than 115,000 small businesses in West Virginia, and residents are eager to show their support.

Fairmont resident, Brent Wiles, said, "Town used to be busy and bustling, but it's kind of vacant now, a lot of empty storefronts. So we need these small businesses to fill in the gaps and keep the economy booming."

Shopping local helps more than just business owners.

"The money stays in the community, so it's really good for the local economy," Leaseburg explained.

Despite competition from big name stores and restaurants...many business owners are optimistic.

"I think a lot of people like to find unique places to eat and drink, and we're one of those places, so I don't have too much hatred for corporates," said Cassell.

Bland said, "There is no business without it's customers, so I definitely think we're supported by the community."